First-ever Fall Festival brings needed financial aid for Community School

Children darted from carnival games to a hay ride, fueled by cotton candy, popcorn, and snow cones during the Community School of Naples Fall Festival on Saturday.

With more than 550 students, family and friends gathering to raise money for the school’s financial aid program, the goal of $10,000 was within reach before the first laugh at the festival.

“Our first goal was to bring families together and the second goal was to raise money,” said Heather Williams, co-chair of the CSN Fall Festival. “We had raised almost $10,000 before the day started and I’m pretty sure we’ll go well beyond our goal.”

Planning for the Fall Festival began last March when Williams suggested combining class fundraising projects with a family event.

“In the past we’ve had projects that classrooms did that were built specifically for financial aid, but every week we were asking parents to put money out,” said Jane Badger, Associate Director of Development at Community School.

Having a Fall Festival gave the school an event to showcase all the projects at one time.

Attendees could purchase tomato and vegetable baskets put together by Community School students, or put a bid in for a scarecrow or pumpkin decorated by classes, individual students, or parents.

“A couple of the families have tomato and vegetable farms in Immokalee and they donated things for the baskets which are available for five dollars,” said Badger.

Other Community School families helped fund the activities, including family photos, a bounce house and the hay ride.

“The kids love the hay ride. I think it’s the busiest thing here,” said Monica Schoeller, a Fall Festival committee member. “We’ve got high school volunteers doing sing-a-longs during the ride and the kids are coming back three or four times.”

More than 50 Community School students helped run the Fall Festival, including creating a Fun House and manning the carnival games which were geared towards younger children.

“There’s something for all ages and the kids are all running around loving everything,” said Sharon Canale, a Fall Festival committee member.

David Rike, a parent, watched as his daughter Anette played in the bounce house.

“She’s enjoying the bounce castle and she’s been in the back playing games, getting her face painted and now we’re going to get some food,” said Rike. “We’ve really liked this and it’s nice to meet parents and people from the school.”

“Everyone wants something to do with the whole family and that’s been a big draw,” said Williams. “Naples also has a lot of people from up North and they miss the fall activities, so we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback.”

Fall Festival organizers plan to make the event an annual fundraiser for the school.

For more information on the Community School of Naples, go to www.communityschoolnaples.org.

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